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Netherlands: NGOs evaluate progress on due diligence by sector-specific covenants

Author: MVO Platform, Published on: 14 December 2016

"Progress on voluntary agreements and legislation"

9 December 2016

...The ‘ICSR covenants’ are sector-based agreements with Dutch sector associations. The covenants are intended to be the product of multi-stakeholder dialogue - between sector associations, member companies, government, trade unions and civil society organizations - through which sector associations identify leading ‘ICSR risks’ facing their sector and develop collaborative approaches to address them. ICSR risks include risks to human rights (including labor rights), environmental impacts, impacts related to corruption and taxation practices and other negative impacts covered by the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles. Through this policy the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Affairs aims to encourage the implementation of due diligence on a voluntary basis in 13 Dutch sectors where considerable ICSR risks have been identified. These sectors are: agriculture, chemicals, construction, electronics, energy, finance, food, metals, oil and gas, retail, textiles/apparel, wholesale and wood and paper products...While some see the ICSR covenant as a promising and innovative way to foster due diligence, others are more critical. As the covenant in itself is just a plan, it remains to be seen if this in practice will lead to tangible results such as less violations in value chains. However, the aforementioned two covenants were signed by NGO’s that usually play a more critical outsider role such as Amnesty. This means that these critical signatories are convinced that these covenants indeed lead to due diligence...

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